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Comments of Elspeth Ross to House of Commons committee in support of adoptee citizenship



Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities



Tuesday, November 30, 2010



Ms. Elspeth Ross:

Three minutes is enough.

I have the same recommendations as the Adoption Council of Canada because of the lack of information: stats, publishing, and what not. But I have some new recommendations for you.

One is that the government support or preferably adopt Bill C-569 of MP John Rafferty, calling for a national strategy for FASD to commit the government to develop a national plan for treatment and prevention, which we don't have at the moment.

On citizenship, Bill C-14, from 2007, an act to amend the Citizenship Act, was applauded for bringing equality to adopted children. It did the opposite. Lawyers from the Canadian Bar Association recommended that adoptive parents use the permanent residency route instead of the direct citizenship route because the new faster route has no appeal. Now adoption advocates are recommending the permanent residency route again because the other creates a two-tier system. Now I have the same recommendation that the Adoption Council of Canada had: to amend the regulations accompanying Bill C-37 so internationally adopted children have the same legal status as children born in Canada and are permitted to transmit their citizenship by descent to children born abroad.

One thing that Bill C-14 did right was to ensure that adopted children can no longer be deported for criminality if their parents did not obtain their citizenship. Before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in June 2006, an official from CIC said "...to respond to charter concerns, all adopted persons would no longer be prevented from acquiring citizenship for any criminality...”. She said it was an equity matter.

In June 2008, the first of a number of adoptees who were under threat of deportation received their Canadian citizenship. A few of us protected Gilberto Currie, adopted from Brazil. We protected him for five years and kept him from being deported to Brazil until the bill was passed. We do not know how many adoptees could have been in the same position.

The fact that people are still choosing to adopt internationally by the permanent residency route leaves the possibility that parents may not obtain citizenship for their children, which can create great hardships if the adoption fails. Children who come to Canada to be adopted and whose adoptions break down before they obtain citizenship are still under threat of deportation today. This must be stopped. Canada must not bring children here in inter-country adoption only to send them back to a country they have not seen since childhood, where they know no one and do not speak the language.

Mario Perez

came to Canada from Mexico to be adopted at the age of five and was deported to Mexico in 2006 at the age of 22. Efforts to prevent this failed, and he still wants to come back. We are now supporting

Tina Desrosiers

, who came to Canada—

The Chair:

I'm sorry, Ms. Ross, we will translate this and get out the story for everyone to read. I'm so sorry we have to limit your time.

Ms. Elspeth Ross:

It's all right. I just have a recommendation that something be done, because it's very complicated to get through the citizenship process, and people whose adoption failed need to be helped to make sure they become citizens.

The Chair:

What I think we'll have to discuss as a committee is we may want to bring back officials from immigration to talk about some of the issues you've brought up.

I'll make sure this is translated and distributed to all the members so they can read the report you've prepared. I want to thank you for the work you've done in preparing that.

We have a short time before the end of our meeting, so we'll have one round of five-minute questions and answers.

We'll begin with Mr. Savage, please.



The Chair:

Thank you very much.

Ms. Ross, did you want to give us that seventh recommendation you had?

Ms. Elspeth Ross:

Yes. It's concerning deportation of what I would call failed adoptees, people who came to Canada to be adopted and whose adoptions broke down.

In the case of


, his adoptive mother brought him at the same time as his younger sister; she wanted the younger sister, but she gave him up to foster care. Nobody got him citizenship. He wasn't saved by Bill C-14, and he was deported.

We're now supporting

Tina DesRosiers

, who came to Canada in 1984 from Brazil to be adopted at the age of nine. She went into care. I think her adoptive mother gave up on her within a couple of weeks of her coming. She was moved into 27 homes, and no one ensured that she obtained her Canadian citizenship. Now, 26 years later, with a criminal record, she's been under threat of deportation for being a so-called “drain on the system”, living on ODSP.

We do not know how many potential cases like this there are, but Tina has passed stage one. She has a receipt of approval in principle for inland processing for a permanent residency on compassionate humanitarian grounds, which is really good.

The process of applying for Canadian citizenship is incredibly complicated. Adoptees, and those from failed adoptions, have great difficulty and they need assistance. Therefore, I give you my seventh recommendation: Ensure that CIC work with Canada Border Services Agency to see that people from failed adoptions who are not Canadian citizens are not deported from Canada, and work with HRSDC and the directors of child welfare to set up procedures to assist them to obtain Canadian citizenship.


The Chair:

Thank you, and thanks so much for bringing that forward. I think it's important that we have that one on the record.

2010 Nov 30